Friday, May 24, 2002

Il n'y a aucune cuillere... just doesn't have the same ring.

Where’s Baudrillard?. Brent Staples claims to have learned something about French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s opinions of “The Matrix,” a movie that borrows heavily from Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulation. However, Staples’ short piece on the subject has a lot less of what Baudrillard thinks of “The Matrix” and a lot more of what Staples thinks of Phillip K. Dick and Hollywood’s penchant for misinterpreting science fiction. Of course Baudrillard would say that no movie could do justice to his book — no surprise there. But the fact that “The Matrix” spends most of its time in the world of the image (the “virtual” world) is not sufficient evidence that the film misunderstands what’s at stake in Simulacra and Simulation. I also think Staples’ analysis doesn’t do justice to the other allusions in “The Matrix,” including Althusser’s concepts of ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs). The contest between image and “real” is only way to frame the more central issue of the various problems caused by our imaginary relationship to our real conditions of existence. And on the question of “Blade Runner”: I wrote a short paper on the film and Dick’s book — perhaps I’ll find time to post it soon. [via there is no spoon]

Now that’s what I’m talking ‘bout. The Matrix is not your standard shoot-‘em-up flick. Reinforcing the comments above (courtesy of that other well-titled blog) is a great essay I found (courtesy of Google’s cache; the page is no longer available) that digs into the importance of Baudrillard’s writings in The Matrix. It is heavy stuff for a Friday, but a great deconstruction of the real core of what The Matrix is all about. For more commentary on this, check out the Baudrillard on the Web archive, kept by a grad student (as of two years ago, at least) at University of Texas at Arlington. For those who aren’t rabid Matrix fans, Simulation and Simulacra is the book Neo opens at the beginning of the film. He had hollowed out the center, and stored evidence of his hacking inside.

Now I’m certainly not one to tell Baudrillard that he just doesn’t get that the Wachowskis actually do get him, but there’s a certain whiff of French superiority in the comments, non? (When I lived in France I came to the conclusion that the French don’t hate America – they simply hate Americans because we’re nowhere near as cool as we should be. We don’t deserve America. If only the French could have America, well, now then you’d have a great country.) Well, M. Baudrillard, have another puff on the Gauloises, cut down on the espresso, and relax. Your theories are in good hands with the Wachowski brothers.

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